Sabah bus operators seeking govt ‘buyout’
by Jenne Lajiun. Posted on September 21, 2012, Friday
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Omnibus Operators’ Association is seeking the government to buy the industry.
Its chairman, David M. Chu, told a press conference at a hotel here yesterday that all members of the association comprising Penampang United Transport (PUT), Tuaran United Transport Company Sdn Bhd (TUT), Luen Thung Tanjong Aru Transport Company Sdn Bhd, Kinabalu Transport Company Sdn Bhd, Maxfreight Sdn Bhd and two Sandakan-based transport companies are ready and would be happy to sell out to the Government.
“Buy up all the bus operators in Sabah. We are all happy to sell,” he said.
According to Chu, the reason behind this move is the companies are facing difficulties in making ends meet in the face of spiraling operating costs.
Moreover, these licensed bus operators have to compete with illegal operators for customers, and although complaints have been lodged with the authorities, no action has been taken to address the longstanding problem.
Pan Malaysian Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali, who was also present at the press conference, said they have submitted a memorandum containing 15 proposals to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also federal Finance Minister.
The memorandum was sent to the Prime Minister on July 20 this year, and members of the Association are hoping their requests will be met in the Budget 2013, he said.
“Our members have long suffered due to the hike in diesel price and other operating costs. We need the Government to provide a policy because without the clear guidelines, many bus operators do not know what they could do to protect their business in an industry that is not profitable,” he said.
Mohamad Ashfar also called for the setting up of the National Policy for Public Land Transport to be done as soon as possible, and for the relevant agency to stop issuing permits to new operators.
At the same time, the association members also want the bus fares to be increased by 30 percent to 40 percent, depending on the condition of roads used by the bus operators, he said.
He proposed that Sabah and Sarawak be given a fare hike increase of 40 percent due to the same reasons.
At the same time, Mohamad Ashfar called for the shortage of qualified drivers to be dealt with seriously as this has far reaching consequences on the industry.
“The bus drivers know that they are indispensable and that has resulted in some drivers becoming undisciplined. They know we cannot do anything to them. But if there are more qualified drivers to choose from, we can let go of the bad apples and keep those who are good,” he said.
Mohamad Ashfar said members of the association also want to stop contributing to the Human Resource Development Fund as it does not benefit them.
They also called for the abolition of the import duties imposed on bus operators to reduce their burden.
“We are providing a service to the people, particularly those who are less well to do. So we are calling on the Government to help us in this respect,” he said.
And to further improve the services rendered by the industry, he urged the Government to provide a special tax relief, as well as abolishing toll rates on buses that are operating on toll roads.